Collateral Damage: America's Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime

A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction

Between 2012 and 2014, NACDL’s Task Force on Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction embarked on a study of relief mechanisms available to those with a conviction on their record on the local, state and federal level. At an event at the Open Society Foundations in Washington, DC, NACDL released a major new report that comprehensively explored the stigma and policies relegating tens of millions of people in America to second-class status because of an arrest or conviction. [Released May 2014]


In addition, the report lays out ten recommendations to ensure that the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are within reach of all, regardless of past mistakes.

We hope you take time to read the report and reflect on what you as an individual can do to ensure that second chances are allotted for not only the wealthy and well positioned, but all of us.

Launch Event (May 29, 2014)

The launch event at the Open Society Foundations in Washington, DC, was attended by over 100 people from all walks of life and political affiliations concerned with the magnitude of collateral consequences that affect over 65 million people. All of the speakers gave poignant testimony about their efforts to ensure second chances are afforded to those with convictions. The speakers represented policy experts, a former Congressman, a former Governor, a former police commissioner, businessmen and individuals with a conviction. Available below is a playlist of seven videos from the launch event.

Speakers: Nkechi Taifa, Norman Reimer, Rick Jones, Former Governor Robert Ehrlich, Bernard Kerik, Lamont Carey, Christine Leonard, JC Watts Jr., Mark O'Brien

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Supported by NFCJ

The NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice preserves and promotes the core values of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American criminal justice system.

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Task Force

Learn more about the Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction, the project, the Task Force members, and the hearings held in 6 cities around the country.

NACDL Collateral Consequences Projects

The consequences of conviction – specific legal barriers, generalized discrimination, and social stigma – have become more numerous and severe, more public, and more permanent. The legal mechanisms relied on in the past to restore rights and status – pardons, expungements, certificates of good conduct -- have atrophied or become ineffective, with the result that a significant percentage of the American public is permanently consigned to second class citizenship. 

NACDL is proud to have several projects aimed at examining the collateral consequences of these convictions. The goal is to provide policy recommendations and laud existing best practices that jurisdictions can engage in to effectively decrease the economic, political, and social stigmas associated with a criminal conviction. Please visit our collateral consequences page.

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